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Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

Otto Stockmeyer

Recent Posts

Adjunct Law Professors: Blessing or Curse?

September 15

From its earliest days, WMU-Cooley Law School has employed the services of adjunct (part-time) professors. The faculty members hired to teach the very first entering class in 1973 were all part-timers. They consisted of two lawyers, an appellate judge, and a former prosecuting attorney.

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Guide to Good Writing; Get Specific!

August 17

Strunk & White’s classic guide to good writing, The Elements of Style, urges writers to use definite, specific, and concrete language. “Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.” The goal is to write “with such accuracy and vigor that the reader, in imagination, can project himself into the scene.”

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Using Microsoft Word’s Readability Program: advice for lawyers

June 29

Readability should be a goal of all careful writers. Lawyers, in particular, need to exercise care that their writings are comprehensible to the intended audience.

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An Introduction to Compensatory Contempt, the "Other" Contempt of Court

June 23

Contempt of court has been in the news recently, usually as a result of someone being punished for disrespecting the court. Examples here in Michigan include a restaurant owner fined $15,000 for violating a judge’s coronavirus-closure order. And a lawyer hit with a $3,000 fine for displaying the middle finger during a zoom hearing.

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How to State Issues in a Case Brief or Exam Bluebook

May 29

Let’s talk about stating issues. It’s a really important skill. There’s an old saying that “a question well stated is half answered.” It applies to resolving legal questions; a well-stated issue leads directly to the relevant rule, and off you go. Issue-spotting is crucial to exam success, but issue-stating is important as well.

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What Goes On At Those "Free-Lunch" Seminars?

May 06

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, so-called “free lunch” seminars are often used to lure people into investing in unsuitable or even fraudulent products. To help older Americans avoid being scammed, AARP and the North American Securities Administrators Association developed the Free Lunch Monitor Program.

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Maximize Your Article's Impact

March 29

Congratulations! Your article has been researched, written, edited, and—hurray!—published. After all that work, why stop with one article? With some imagination, you may be able to develop one or more spin-off pieces for other publications. Sometimes this may involve a reprinting of your article in full. More often it will take the form of an excerpt or abridgment.

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Calling All Scribes

March 02

What does the word “scribes” call to mind? For most people, it evokes the image of medieval monks copying manuscripts with quill pens. But modernly it also refers to a society of legal writers.

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It's All About IRAC

February 08

As beginning law students soon learn, what we call “legal reasoning” can be expressed by the formula IRAC. It’s the law’s version of the deductive syllogism. It stands for Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. First, identify the salient issue (“Is Socrates mortal?”). Then, state the applicable rule (“All men are mortal”). Next, apply the rule to the relevant facts (“Socrates is a man”). This leads inexorably to the conclusion (“Therefore Socrates is mortal”).

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A Tale of Two Toms: How WMU-Cooley Law School Acquired Two Bronze Likenesses of its Namesake

January 03

WMU-Cooley Law School alum John Nocita (Turner Class, 1991) is profiled in the Winter 2020 issue of the alumni magazine Benchmark. The profile includes an account of his donation to the law school of an impressive bronze bust of Thomas M. Cooley mounted on a marble pedestal.

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